Bowie Didn't Know He Was Dying Until the Very End

Yet he was still fighting, 'Lazarus' director says in new doc
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 6, 2017 9:32 AM CST

The music video for "Lazarus" shows David Bowie in a hospital bed, his eyes masked by bandages, as he sings, "Look up here, I'm in heaven, I've got scars that can't be seen." It was while filming that video three months before his death that he learned his cancer was terminal, director Johan Renck reveals in a new documentary to air Saturday on BBC2, per the Guardian. While fans have suggested the video was his farewell gift to the world, Renck was aiming for "biblical" imagery of "the man who would rise again," he tells the Telegraph. "It had nothing to do with him being ill," he says in David Bowie: The Last Five Years. "I found out later that, the week we were shooting, it was when he was told it was over, they were ending treatments and that his illness had won."

The documentary by Francis Whately, a sequel to David Bowie: Five Years, includes never-before-seen footage of Bowie—including making a fart joke, per Pitchfork—as it explores his 2003 A Reality Tour along with his work on two albums and musical Lazarus during the last four years of his life. "This period hadn't been explored by anybody so it was very interesting territory," Whately says. "In some ways he seems to have worked harder in that period than at almost any other time." Indeed, the director of the Lazarus musical recalls in the documentary one of his last meetings with a visibly weak Bowie in the weeks before he died: "We were sitting behind stage and he said 'let’s start a second one now, the sequel to Lazarus.' I really am convinced that he was fighting death." (Bowie appears with another late legend in this old clip.)

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